Immigrant advocates, elected officials rally for early childhood funding in NYC budget

Comptroller Brad Lander addresses the rally.
Comptroller Brad Lander addresses the rally.
Photo courtesy NYIC

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), Campaign for Children, elected officials, member organizations, allies and immigrant New Yorkers on Tuesday rallied for early childhood funding in NYC budget and held a press conference in City Hall Park.

According to NYIC, nearly a third of all parents of children under five years old in New York City are Limited English Proficient (LEP).

“Immigrant parents want to enroll their kids in early education programs that will get them on the right path for school, but significant barriers exist for many of these families,” it said. “That is why New York City must invest $4 million in a city-wide expansion of the Linking Immigrant Families to Early Childhood Education (LIFE) Project, a proven early childhood outreach, application and enrollment support program specifically designed to meet the needs of LEP and digitally disconnected families, to address these barriers.

“The city must also fund $20 million in the successful Promise NYC program so undocumented families continue to have access to quality childcare,” NYIC added. “The NYC FY24 budget must also bolster the overall early childhood system to achieve pay equity for the early childhood workforce, on-site and year-round enrollment, protection of current 3-K seats, restoration of the 3-K expansion timeline, and expanded access to infant and toddler care and year-round programs.”

“The city budget must meet the needs of undocumented children and their families who rely on these programs to provide safe, enriching care for their children while their families work. By delegating $20 million for the Promise NYC program, the Mayor and City Council can ensure that young children, regardless of status, will have the opportunity for care, especially those from families seeking asylum who are building new lives as New Yorkers. To fulfill the gold star promise of 3-K for all, every child should have an early childhood seat available in their neighborhood with proper outreach, on time payments to providers, and a living wage for care workers,” said Comptroller Brad Lander.

“Access to quality early childhood education is not just an investment in our children; it is an investment in the future of our city,” said Councilmember Rita Joseph, the Haitian-born Education Committee chair, District 40 in Brooklyn. “By ensuring that all New Yorkers have access and equal opportunity to early learning, we will pave the way for a stronger, more equitable society that thrives on the foundation of knowledge, compassion, and endless possibilities.”

“From Promise NYC to Pre-K seats for our immigrant families, advocates have fought for years to create vital problems for our immigrant neighbors. But despite years of advocacy, these problems lack the funding to reach and fully empower immigrant families,” said Councilmember Shahana Hanif, Immigration Committee Chair, District 39. “Ensuring equitable, full investments in these crucial programs ensure the safety and dignity of thousands of immigrant families in our city. Childcare investments are essential to gender justice, and I’m proud to fight for them alongside Council Member Caban, Comptroller Lander, as well as dozens of immigration and early childhood advocates.”

“Early childhood education pays for itself over the long haul, and it’s better for children and families, too,” said Councilmember Gale A. Brewer, District 6. “The city has to do better outreach to fill Pre-K and 3-K slots and pay providers on time to build the pipeline we need so we feed the K–12 schools students who are better readers, have better math and social skills, and can graduate on time. It’s a common-sense—and compassionate—investment in our city’s future.”

“As a mother of four, building a brighter future for all New Yorkers begins with nurturing and investing in our youth. Our City Council will continue advocating for essential funding and resources that create an early childhood education system that leaves no child behind and forges a path forward where every family flourishes. By increasing funding for vital programs, New York City can set a precedent across the nation that Universal Childcare can be realized and that parents will no longer have to choose between their job and childcare,” said Councilmember Julie Menin, District 5.”

“New York City is facing a major affordability crisis, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the cost of childcare. By funding the LIFE Project, Promise NYC, and making reasonable investments in the early childhood system, New York can give more children the foundation they need for success and more families the relief they deserve,” said Liza Schwartzwald, senior manager of Economic Justice and Family Empowerment, New York Immigration Coalition. “Promise NYC and the City’s public 3-K/Pre-K system have allowed unprecedented access to early childhood services for immigrant children, but without the proper funding for outreach and support, many families will never know that these programs exist and will remain shut out. We can’t let that happen.”

“High-quality early childhood education can be a game changer for children’s education and must be available to the children who need it most,” said Kim Sweet, executive director, Advocates for Children of New York. “Unfortunately, the city has been falling short, leaving more than 10,000 preschoolers with disabilities without their mandated services and proposing to eliminate funding to provide child care to children who are undocumented, among other challenges. This year’s budget must restore funding for Promise NYC and make the investments necessary to ensure every preschooler with a disability gets the services they need and have a legal right to receive.”

“A high-quality early childhood education can have a tremendous impact in a child’s lifelong educational outcomes, particularly for children from under-resourced communities,” said Phoebe C. Boyer, president and CEO, Children’s Aid. “Children’s Aid calls for a fully functioning early childhood education system from 0 to 5 years old. The city’s final budget must include funding that creates more 0 to 5 options for working families, improved outreach and enrollment, and salary parity for early childhood educators.”

“New York City’s Early Care and Education system functions as a vital resource for children and families, promoting not only young child development and school readiness, but also offering critical support to working parents,” said Jennifer March, executive director, Citizens’ Committee for Children. “Sadly, our early care and education system is in crisis, failing to meet the needs of both families and providers. City leaders must consider the concerns of community-based providers and parents and work to restore funding for 3-K, convert open seats to meet demand for extended-day and full-year care, ensure access to care for immigrant households, and adequately pay community-based providers. We thank the City Council for their leadership championing solutions to these challenges and we hope that they continue to work with Mayor Adams to build a more sustainable path to universal early care and education in New York City.”

“At a time when New York City’s families are desperate for child care, the City’s FY 2024 Budget should take steps to increase access to high-quality early care and education. However, the Executive Budget moves in the wrong direction and makes cuts that will negatively impact children and families,” said Tara N. Gardner, executive director, Day Care Council of New York. “The City must ensure that child care providers are paid on time, restore Promise NYC, remove barriers to enrollment, and achieve salary parity for the early childhood education workforce.”

“New York City’s moms and families are counting on lawmakers to prioritize solutions to the child care crisis in this year’s budget,” said Diana Limongi, campaign director for Early Learning, MomsRising. “We need a budget that helps ensure all families, regardless of immigration status, can find and afford quality child care. New York is a city of immigrants, and immigrants power our economy. And all kids, no matter where they were born, deserve a strong start to their education. Investing in undocumented families and children is an investment in our city’s future.”